Chertoff says non-Mexican illegals slowed
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Aug. 23 said the government has all but shut down the flowof non-Mexican illegal aliens into the United States with upgraded border security and an increase in detention beds.
Mr. Chertoff said thedepartment has turned a long-standing “catchand-release” program into one of “catch-and-remove.”
“Iwanttobecarefulnottodeclare victory,” Mr. Chertoff said, adding that alien smugglers were not expected to give up lucrative criminal enterprises they have operated for more than a decade.
“But what we have done is beginning to work. It is encouraging, and it is something that ought to inspire us to continue to push forward.”
Mr. Chertoff, joined by U.S. Border Patrol Chief David Aguilar and John Torres, director of the Office of Detention and Removal at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said 99 percent of the non-Mexican illegal aliens now caught at the Southwest border are detained for deportation to their home countries. He said the catchand-remove program has served as a deterrent to illegal migration by non-Mexicans.
Of the 1,055 non-Mexicans arrested at the border during the week of Aug. 7 to 13, seven were released. Last year, he said, only 34 percent of the non-Mexican illegal aliens —knownas other-than-Mexican, or OTMs— were detained for deportation. Nearly 2,100 OTMs were detained at the border in May.
Chief Aguilar said decreases in the apprehension of illegals allows the Border Patrol to expand operationsbecauseagentsnolongerarerequired to work eight-hour shifts to process them. “Because we’re detaining them, the flow is down. If the flow is down,thatgivesusgreatercapacity to address a larger portion of theborder,”hesaid,addingthatfewer migrants have been spotted at traditionalstagingareasinMexico,where thousands daily seek to hookupwith smugglers to cross the border.
Ending the so-called catch-andrelease policy was a major goal of thedepartment’sSecureBorder Initiative, a multiyear plan to secure U.S. borders and reduce illegal bordercrossing.The initiative raisesthe number of agents to patrol the nation’s borders, expands detention and removal capabilities, upgrades technology, and increases interior enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.
The majority of illegal aliens caught along the 1,951-mile Southwest border are Mexican nationals, who are returned immediately to their home country. OTMswere not being detained because processing themtooktoomuchtimeandtoofew detention beds were available.